Working in concert with the Veterans Administration, nonprofit veteran organizations, and churches, Building Bridges' mission is to build bridges within the veteran population, and between veterans and the communities they risked their lives to protect. Our operating strategy is as simple as our mission: to create veteran communities around a weekly or monthly lunch which fosters collegiality and mutual support.
Building Bridges provides a comfortable, respectful, and non-judgmental space for veterans to gather at free lunches at local veterans clubs and lodges. We partner with a host of veteran service providers, agencies, and independent nonprofits to collaboratively address the significant challenges facing US veterans. The Initiative offers a hot, nutritious weekly meal, camaraderie, and relevant programming on such issues as PTSD and its treatment, the acquisition of service dogs, and available Veterans Administration benefits. Indeed, Veteran Service Officers repeatedly remark that Building Bridges provides supportive venues to make accessible critical veterans services that they find difficult to deliver from their offices.
Building Bridges began in 2012 when Bishop Doug Fisher, then newly consecrated as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, identified American veterans as a critically under-served and tragically marginalized population that the church was being called to embrace. Recognizing the rampant problem of veteran homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, and the epidemic isolation that veterans face, Bishop Fisher pledged his commitment and significant resources to launch what would become the Building Bridges Veterans Initiative.
The Rev. Christopher Carlisle is founder and Executive Director of the Building Bridges Veterans Initiative of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts. Having spent thirty-five years working in parishes, on college campuses, and in outdoor worshipping communities, Chris is dedicated to creating a ministry which recognizes the invaluable service rendered by our military veterans, seeking innovative ways to more fully bring them home.
Chad Wright Chad Wright serves as Associate Director of Operations for the twelve communities that comprise Building Bridges. A social worker and veteran himself, Chad has a unique passion for community service. Utilizing his diverse skills—from volunteer supervision, to cooking and menu development, to venue acquisition and site-based fundraising, Chad’s expertise, warmth and accessibility have greatly contributed to Building
Bridges’ five-year expansion throughout New England.
Ellie Laudone is the Associate Director of Communications for Building Bridges, a full-time social work student at Elms College, and an employee at the Veterans Affairs facility in Leeds. Ellie has been working in Veterans' Primary and Geriatric care for 3 years and is adamant about its impact on clinical care. She plans to obtain her Masters degree in Social work, specializing in clinical and therapeutic care for Veterans.